Oh, how do I love Sophie Kinsella? Let me count the ways… Finding Audrey is Kinsella’s first venture into the young adult demographic and it is so, so good.
Being a teenager is hard enough, but being a teenager who suffers from anxiety and depression is even more difficult. That’s what Audrey faces every day. After a traumatic experience, Audrey is finding it extremely hard to go outside or even make eye contact without feeling anxious. She’s dropped out of her regular school, enrolled in another, and hides her eyes behind dark sunglasses. As she waits for her new school to start, she stays in at home, limiting her contact to her family members and Dr. Sarah. But when Audrey unexpectedly comes face to face with her brother’s friend Linus in her house, she starts feeling things she’s never felt before…
One of my favourite things about Kinsella is her uncanny ability to create distinct characters that transcend the page. In Finding Audrey in particular, she takes special care to characterize Audrey in an honest way, never reducing her to a stereotype or forcing her to do anything that would make her feel uncomfortable (for example, the details of the traumatic event isn’t revealed until Audrey is ready to tell her readers). The supporting characters are just as expertly written. They all read as real people, and I was pleasantly surprised by how on-the-nose Kinsella is in nailing teenage voices. (Audrey’s gamer brother Frank comes to mind here. I loved that his story took up a significant part of the text and it didn’t seem like Kinsella was trying too hard to emulate “teenager speak.” Let’s face it: very few young adults actually text “C U L8ER” anymore.) When paired with Kinsella’s signature humour, Finding Audrey becomes a novel bustling with energy and heart.
Unsurprisingly, one of my favourite things about the novel was Audrey’s friendship/relationship with Linus. Linus is incredibly understanding and sensitive, creating many swoon-worthy moments. It really highlights how important having great friends is. Audrey is buoyed by Linus’ friendship, and it’s so heartwarming to see.
In a time where mental illness is starting to gain more mainstream attention, Finding Audrey is a thoughtful addition to the dialogue. It approaches mental illness in a non-judgemental way, helping to destigmatize and demystify the experience of having anxiety without claiming to speak for anyone but its characters. I think Kinsella approached the topic in a considerate way, and I think that Finding Audrey, beyond being a wonderful story, will prove to be a great companion to readers who are experiencing or have experienced similar emotions.
Verdict: Finding Audrey tackles a difficult topic with understanding and tact while balancing it with other teenage experiences to create a heartfelt novel that is perfect for teen and adult readers alike. I admired its approach and think it’s an important addition to a larger conversation surrounding mental illness. On top of that, it adds family matters and romance, making it truly a book for everyone.
Read if: You are a fan of Sophie Kinsella, you are interested in reading about a teenager dealing with depression and anxiety, enjoyed All The Bright Places and want to read something similar, want a light young adult read with a swoon-worthy romance.
Are you a fan of Sophie Kinsella? Do you think you’ll give Finding Audrey a try?